Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans'

Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe Hill’s Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution Obama appears in new ad from Dem redistricting group SCOTUS defeat of Democrats’ election-rigging strategy a victory for voters MORE said Friday that the growing calls from Democrats to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are a “gift” to Republicans.

“I don’t think that substantively or politically that makes a great deal of sense,” Holder, who served under former President Obama, told host Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily.”

“In some ways, you’re giving the Republicans a gift by saying we’re going to have a debate now about whether ICE Should be abolished.”

Holder’s comments come as many Democratic lawmakers have voiced opposition to the agency in light of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani: Trump interview with Mueller ‘further away’ ACLU calls for Trump officials to hand over info on immigrant children Kushner to join Pompeo for meetings with Mexican leaders MORE‘s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that led to thousands of migrant families being separated at the southern border. 

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Earlier this week, a group of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would eliminate the agency. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDems say they’ll vote no on their ‘Abolish ICE’ legislation House GOP to bring Dem ‘abolish ICE’ bill up for vote Jordan complains about CNN reporters calling former staffers to ask questions MORE (R-Calif.) responded by confirming a time for a vote on the bill.

Democratic Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanDems say they’ll vote no on their ‘Abolish ICE’ legislation House GOP to bring Dem ‘abolish ICE’ bill up for vote Dems introduce bill to eliminate ICE, shift duties elsewhere MORE (Wis.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDems say they’ll vote no on their ‘Abolish ICE’ legislation Jane Fonda: Kavanaugh confirmation would be a ‘catastrophe’ House GOP to bring Dem ‘abolish ICE’ bill up for vote MORE (Wash.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralDems say they’ll vote no on their ‘Abolish ICE’ legislation House GOP to bring Dem ‘abolish ICE’ bill up for vote Dems introduce bill to eliminate ICE, shift duties elsewhere MORE (N.Y.) accused GOP leaders of attempting to exploit the legislation for political gain, saying they would vote against the measure if it was brought to the House floor.

“We know Speaker Ryan is not serious about passing our ‘Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act,’ so members of Congress, advocacy groups, and impacted communities will not engage in this political stunt,” the Democrats said in a joint statement on Thursday, adding that they welcome an opportunity for a debate about the legislation. 

Republicans are hoping to force Democratic lawmakers running in swing districts in the November midterm elections into making a difficult vote on the agency. 

Holder told MSNBC that a debate on ICE moves away the focus from reunifying the thousands of migrant families separated at the border.

“The focus ought to be on what this administration did to those children,” Holder said. 

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